10 Essential Skills for Nurses in 2024

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WRITTEN BY:
Ivy Locke
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REVIEWED BY:
Edumed Editing Staff
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The nursing field is thriving and ever-evolving, providing professionals with benefits such as excellent pay, lots of overtime, and emotional fulfillment. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees is $81,220 annually. Moreover, employment for nurses is projected to grow by 6% over the next decade, which is faster than most professions.

Nevertheless, the only way to reap these benefits is by being as effective as possible. Although nursing has always required a mixture of hard and soft skills, new technology and challenges have compelled employers to prioritize specific skills over others. With that in mind, here is a list of 10 essential skills for today’s nurses.

Follow the 6 Cs

Although they have been popularized in the United Kingdom, the six Cs were created to focus on a patient-centric work model for healthcare professionals. Given the various obstacles and barriers facing the American medical system, all practices can greatly benefit from incorporating these soft skills into their professional profiles.

The 6 Cs are as follows:

  • Care – Nurses are expected to handle all patients with the utmost care. This means being as gentle as possible in words and actions.
  • Compassion – Being a compassionate caregiver means always treating your patients with kindness, respect, and dignity.
  • Competence – Competence means possessing the knowledge and expertise to accurately assess a patient’s health and social needs and provide them with the best treatments possible.
  • Communication – Nurses must listen and understand patients and their fellow employees to ensure that everyone remains safe and supported throughout their shifts.
  • Courage – Working in healthcare requires courage. Nurses must have the courage to make life-changing decisions at a moment’s notice and be bold enough to express opposing views even when others are not ready to hear them.
  • Commitment – Being a nurse requires commitment. Nurses must be committed to helping improve patient outcomes and pitching in, however is necessary to keep all staff and patients safe.

Empathy

In keeping with that notion, the pandemic has drastically changed the nursing field. Not only are nurses required to deal with staffing shortages and supply chain issues, but the very nature of the average patient has changed. According to the National Institute of Health, anxiety and depression have increased by 25% globally. Therefore, empathetic nursing is more important than ever. Nurses must keep in mind that a wide array of variables may contribute to someone’s bill of health and do their best to provide each patient with optimal care while also showing compassion for their circumstances.

Leadership Skills

These days, leadership skills for nurses are essential. As mentioned, many healthcare facilities are short-staffed. According to the American Hospital Association, approximately 100,000 registered nurses left their jobs within the past two years due to stress, burnout, and retirement; another 610,388 are projected to leave their positions by 2027. Therefore, it will take a concerted effort to stop the shortage and prevent it from causing further damage. In addition to hiring new staff members, healthcare managers are seeking candidates with stellar leadership skills. This is because those with leadership skills are highly skilled at decision-making and task delegation, which is necessary without a full staff.

Flexibility

Scheduling is a major issue when working in healthcare, especially in hospitals. This is one of the primary reasons being a successful nurse requires extreme flexibility. Given the staff shortages, new hires, and other challenges, nurses must be prepared to work in various departments, help others, and take on roles that others may be ill-equipped to handle. Nurses must also be able to work various shifts and fill in for absent employees with little to no notice.

Critical Thinking/Ethics

Nurses must be critical thinkers. According to John Carroll University, this is because they are often faced with complex scenarios that require the ability to interpret observations, make diagnoses, implement interventions, etc. This means nurses must continuously employ critical thinking skills to quickly and effectively tend to patients and assist their fellow medical professionals.

Additionally, today’s nurses must be highly ethical. They are tasked with making life-saving decisions and work without constant supervision. Therefore, they must be trustworthy and capable of making the best possible decisions in all situations.

Confidence

Nurses must be incredibly self-assured to save lives for a living. So, not only do you have to be a leader capable of making sound decisions at a moment’s notice, but you must also be confident in those decisions. According to Post University, confidence is critical in nursing because it enables nurses to be comfortable performing tasks independently. Moreover, shaken confidence can undermine even the most competent nurse’s ability to complete simple tasks. In other words, nurses lacking confidence can literally put patient’s lives at risk. If you need tips on building your confidence as a nurse, click the link.

Time Management

Another significant skill required of the nurses of today is timeline management. Since many hospitals are excessively busy and dealing with staffing shortages, good timeline management skills are essential to your long-term success. Nurses often work long hours and have to make the most of their lunch hours and breaks to ensure that they eat and rest during their shifts. Moreover, according to Concordia University Texas, they must be able to assess how to complete tasks in the most timely and efficient manner. They must also know when it makes more sense to delegate those tasks to others.

Mental and Physical Endurance

Nurses are like the Olympians of the medical field. Nursing is very physically and mentally demanding; nurses are often required to sprint from one room to the next to ensure patients are attended to promptly, and they are known for working 12-hour shifts or even longer.

Nursing can also be mentally draining. There will be times when you have to deliver bad news to families or simply fail to achieve the desired patient outcome. According to The University of Texas at Arlington, self-care is essential for nurses because this is how they preserve their mental and physical health while keeping their immune systems intact. Visit the link for more information on how to do just that.

Resourcefulness

Nurses must be highly resourceful. This has never been so true as it is today. While dealing with staffing shortages and supply chain disruptions, it’s highly possible to be in a position where you don’t have the equipment or workforce required to manage specific tasks or treat patients. Nevertheless, a resourceful nurse will always find a way. This could mean everything from finding the best ways to delegate to choosing suitable alternatives to missing products and equipment.

A Good Work/Life Balance

Lastly, successful nurses must maintain a good work/life balance. According to the University of Texas Permian Basin, maintaining a good work/life balance is essential for nurses. This is because nursing is very mentally and physically demanding and, thus, can cause mental/physical health issues or even burnout. A nurse experiencing burnout is far more likely to make mistakes, miss days from work, etc. So, taking the steps to achieve a healthy work/life balance is essential.